Things Happen

Life doesn’t always treat you kindly. In fact, often it can seem like life has it in for you. Life doesn’t want you, and you deserve nothing, because life is evil. Life can leave you broken, torn, and dying. Life can leave you suffocated by pain, and it can seem impossible to escape from the past.

It doesn’t matter though, because the world goes on, no matter if if is with, or without you. It’s taken me a very long time to realise that. You can stop, you can stress, and you can take your time away with tears and worry, but it doesn’t stop anyone else. They will leap ahead of you, and jump the gate. You will be left behind, drifting further and further away, until you are no more. And I wasn’t put on this earth to waste away. I have a bigger purpose than that. I have dreams I want to pursue, places that I want to go, and hopes to strive for.

That’s why love is important. Things happen, people die, children are born, people do wrong, people are hurtful, and people are hurt. But love keeps us grounded, and trust can keep us moving on, one step at a time. It allows us to keep up with the crowds, even if just for a while you have to be dragged along. It may take fifty years, but one day, you’ll realise the power of love and trust. You’ll realise that living in the past is only wasting the world, and you’ll realise that you must move on with your life. Things happen, and you don’t want to miss the happiness and laughter because you are trapped by the chains of pain.

But without love though, you will never be released from those chains. You may love those around you despite your pain, but it’s not until you can realise that someone loves you back, and loves you with every part of their soul, and maybe, just maybe, you deserve that love that you can trust them. Even then, trust can seem scary, but if you can leap over the gate and take that step, love will guide you. Soon, you’ll catch up with the others, you’ll be in sync with the world, and I’m told that it’s a much easier place to be.

And now, I’ve realised that love. I’ve allowed myself to trust. And I’m ready to start climbing the mountain. For now, we both struggle, and we drag each other in dribs and drabs, but if we can get stronger, we can help those around us. If we can achieve our hopes and dreams, we can save lives. You can be a doctor. I can cure cancer. She might save the starving child, and he may keep the heart of the baby kitten beating.

All we need to do is remember that things always happen. The world always turns, so let it happen, let the past be the past, and let’s strive for a better and happier future.

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Punishing Myself

There’s nothing that I hate more than upsetting those that I care about. It literally tears me apart and leaves me unable to move. Perhaps for some that may seem to be an overreaction, but when I really care for someone, I don’t want to upset them or make them angry. If I can, I want to always see them happy, and I definitely don’t ever want to be the cause of their unhappiness.

What frustrates me most of all though, is that usually, they’re upset through misunderstanding. I’ve angered them, but they’ve simply seen and taken a double meaning in something that I’ve said (usually by text) without actually stopping and considering what I may actually mean, or to ask questions and allow me time to explain. 99% of the time, I don’t mean it in the way that they’ve seen it. I’m not a hateful person, I’m really and truly not.

If anything, the slight anger or upset that I caused may not have that much of an effect on the person, but if they act as though it does and then disappear without actually confirming it, I suffer. My aim in life is not to break hearts, and it breaks my own to think that I may have done so.

I hate myself for causing upset in the world, when my soul aim is to try and create peace. I hate myself for not giving those who care about me what they deserve, and so even if it is only a minor slip, I will punish myself in the harshest way.

And so now, I find myself curled in my bed, suffering from the effects of the conversation I had with my best friend. While it would always punish myself if it has ended like this, today, I’m beyond angry. I don’t want to do this, and I can’t push her away. I’ve already had bad news today and I’m loosing far too much without her as well.

And I didn’t even say anything that was meant to be horrible in any way. It’s always a text message taken out of context. I flipping well hate texts, because they can have so many meanings whereas if you said it out loud there would be no doubt and you’d laugh together.

And now she’s gone. To eat, to a lecture, to ignore me, to work, I’ve no idea. But I am forcing myself to suffer. Because I may have hurt her. She’s stopped replying, and until I know for sure, I won’t allow myself to be happy. I’ve tipped the balance. I was wobbling this morning after hearing what I’ve heard, and so upsetting someone else was just too much for me today.

My aim is only to love, and I sure as hell don’t want to loose anyone, especially if it’s not my fault.

Please call me back, let it be okay. I’m afraid of everything, and I can’t do this without you.

Exam Panic

I’ve been awake since 5.45am, and I can’t get back to sleep because although it’s silent, I’m still rather livid with my best friends mum. You see, my best friend is coming today, and she was supposed to stay for three nights. Then her mum took a night of that away. I hardly ever get to see this friend, she’s eighteen, and all I asked for was for three days that were planned two months in advance. I can’t stand it. She does this every single time we plan anything, weather is be not allowing her to give blood before uni, and in that denying me my last goodbye, or cutting our coffee down to half an hour at Christmas. And I can’t sleep because although I’m over it and have accepted it, it’s meant that I’ve had to buy a new train ticket, and that’s not fair. And that ticket has cost twice what I originally thought, and so that is money I won’t get back from my parents. Which means now, I’m in debt. That’s not fair, at all.

But either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is she is coming, but what really matters, is that first, I have an exam to take. And it’s six am. And I can’t sleep. And I’m going out tonight. And I can’t afford to not sleep. Because my exam isn’t until one. And the longer I’m awake, the more time I have to work myself into a state of panic. I think I’m going to have to get up soon, because lying in the dark isn’t healthy for me. Everything in my head just spins.

I can’t take this exam. I’m not mentally prepared, I haven’t revised enough, and I’m not happy. I’m too jumpy, and I need it to be over. I don’t have words, it’s too early. But it needs to go away, because I can’t go on.

It’s one more thing on top of a high and wobbly stack. Sometime, it’s going to fall, and that’s going to be a very very scary day.

Happiness High

I’m on a complete, utter, and wholeheartedly uncontrollable happiness high. And I love it.

I know, it’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s exam week, for goodness sake! How on earth can I be happy, buzzing, or excited!? Because despite the stressful revision and panic attack-inducing exams, I’ve taken time to have fun, too. Oh, and there’s been some absolutely FANTASTIC surprises along the way!

So, I take you back to Tuesday. For the first time in nine days, I left campus to go for pizza with some course friends.

Thursday, after my exam, my best friend skyped me. She was pretty cryptic for the whole two hours, checking flights and not really saying much. While I wanted to chat and chat, and was a little disgruntled, I had my suspicions as to what she might be doing, and so I didn’t moan too much. I was right. Just after she left, she sent me an email with her flight details. We’re spending a night in London for my birthday, as a surprise. I’m so excited! I slept the best I have in weeks, and I was still buzzing the next morning, bouncing around my room like a bunny.

Yesterday, I got a parcel. Weird, because I knew I hadn’t ordered anything. It was my best friend again, this time, she sent me 300g of milka. Beautiful. She’s really fabulous, that girl. Honestly. Out of nowhere, my mum offered to pay for Les Mis tickets, so we’re going to see that in London. I booked them at 11.30pm. I’m beyond excited, and another absolutely AMAZING SURPRISE!

I also sat for two hours with my floor mates and had tea and hot chocolate and a catch up, which was beautiful again. Good chance to break free of these same four walls for once!

I found out today that my home bedroom has been decorated, and I can’t wait to see it!

Now it’s Saturday, my last exam finishes on Tuesday, and that same best friend is then coming to stay with me at uni for FOUR DAYS. Yes, I’m excited. I’m very very very very VERY EXCITED! And she’s going to get a massive hug, because she’s made my mood go from all time panic and disgusting low and sadness, to on too of the world and crying with happiness. For that, I’m very very grateful.

I’m still having blips and turns, I still slip and slide, but I’m trying to be positive. I’m exhausted, but if in the next few days I can get my head down, work hard, not send too many texts and don’t allow myself to be distracted, at 2pm on Tuesday it will all be over, and fingers crossed I’ll be laughing in my best friend’s arms, not crying.

I’m really not alright.

‘I’m alright and I’ll be alright.’

That’s such a lie. If there’s one thing that I’m not right now, it’s alright. After days of waking up several times a night with nightmares, I had only two hours sleep last night. I’ve had a headache all day, and now I really want nothing more than to be sick. I haven’t been hungry for ages but I’ve been forcing myself to eat. I’ve just spent the last hour in tears and haven’t really done any productive revision since lunchtime.

My first university exam is tomorrow and there is absolutely no way that I’m coping. The lie that has been my positive mental attitude has come down in one huge swoop and knocked me flat onto my face. Of course you can’t just change completely in a week, and in trying to do so, and not allowing myself that five minute stress each day, I’ve potentially ruined my chances for tomorrow.

I’m angry. I’m angry at myself. Why did I let this happen? Normally now, I’d want to talk it out, but I don’t know if there’s anybody that I want to talk to. I can feel myself reverting back to the old me, the me that used to play the game of happy smiley masks and locked in my room with tears.

I can’t stop the crying, and I don’t know what to do. I’m not even sure that I want to cry, or even really why I’m crying, but I just can’t control it. I tried distraction and deep breathing, but the second I moved on and did something else, it started again. My eyes are getting sore and the salty tears are irritating my face.

It’s times like this that I can’t cope on my own. There may not be one name that I can give right now who I want to talk to or spend time with, but in my heart of hearts I know that what I need is someone to march in here, or someone to call me, and sort me out. I need someone to give me a list of what to do and when to do it by. I need someone to give me a hug and then shake me up and tell me to man up. While all of that sounds horrifying, I know it’s all that can fix me when I get myself into a rut like this.

I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want anyone in the real world to know. I’m weak, and I’m a failure, again. I’ve not even sat the exam, and I’ve failed.

The scariest bit? Even if I do pass, I won’t get the first that is required to make my parents happy. I’m simply not that clever.

Or is that the scariest bit? Or is it worse to watch myself be consumed by the demons and tied by the chains which I thought that I’d broken free of?

I just want it to be over. But then there’s only another exam to come.

I miss you.

It’s not about who you miss at 4am when you’re lonely, it’s about who you miss at 2pm when you’re busy.

And I miss you. Twenty-four-seven. Like seriously, sometimes I think it’s a little weird exactly how much I miss you. But I guess it’s not, really. It makes sense. I thought the hardest part of these five weeks apart would be when I was in a place that I’ve visited the most with you by my side. London, of course. While we went to places that you introduced me to, and I did wish for you to be by my side, it wasn’t as hard as it is right now. I still missed you though. I’m always missing you.

Right now, it’s a little different. There’s 7 days and 17 hours until you arrive at my university to visit me for three nights. I’m so excited! A few days ago, you told me that you are excited, and that made me smile more than ever. But with exams looming, my stress levels at an all time high, and more tears than I have time for, I miss you more than ever.

I spend a lot of my time working out the time difference between home and where you’re visiting your dad, wondering if you’ve gotten up yet, how far you skied today, and what you’re eating. I hope that you’ll call me tomorrow, because it’s been so long since I heard your voice, and your voice is one of the few things that comforts me. It relaxes me, and while it’ll never have the same effect as one of your bloody awesome hugs, I feel a certain amount of tension fall from my shoulders when you call to say hi.

Now though, I need to concentrate on my exams. I miss you lots, and while I’d quite happily talk to you all day long, and it’s usually self inflicted, I really really can’t. I just can’t be distracted anymore, and so I mustn’t allow myself to contact you. That’s going to be hard.

But I’ll see you next week and we can talk and laugh and drink chai and smile, and cry if we need to, too. But we’ve got three days of fun to look forward to, and I’m so excited to steal your time away and claim it for myself.

I can’t wait to see you, but I miss you. You’re my big sister, and it’s hard without your little piece of the jigsaw to keep my heart glued together.

Scrapbook

I have a scrapbook to record my first year at University. I’ve done a page each week since I got here, and whilst I still need to add a few photos, it’s coming together rather nicely in a very cute fashion. I was really excited to show the girl who bought it for me when she visits next week.

And then last night I filled three pages with what can only be described as a grim essay. It was nothing to do with university, just something that I’d been thinking about all day. It upset me several times yesterday, and I just needed to get it out of my brain. I was going to blog about it, but for some reason, I opened the scrapbook and wrote it in there instead, accompanied by a couple of drawings.

Now, I regret it.

I don’t want to show her anymore, when she comes. I will, I have to, but it won’t be the fun experience of sharing my first semester that I wanted it to be. I’m angry at myself. But I just had to let it go, and so I let it go in the only way I know how. I wrote it down. But that doesn’t make it go away, does it? I’m going to have to look at it again, and it’ll be next week, when she’s by my side.

It’s a shame, because what was a pretty scrapbook now really isn’t.

Oh well, it’s done, I can’t take it back, so I must try and use my new positive attitude and look forward to the impending exams, and the more enjoyable things that will happen when she visits.

Failure

I’m a failure. I’ve always been a failure. I’ve never been, and I never will be good enough. Even after writing this post the first time, it failed to upload and I lost it all. I’m going to try and write it again, but it’ll never be the same the second time around. It’ll never tell the same story, and now that I’ve taken time to think about it, I probably wont tell the whole truth this time. I guess that it’s another story to add to the archives for a ‘3am, curled up in the duvet, teary eyed in the pitch black darkness’ night. The irony of a post entitled failure failing to upload is huge. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing it at all.

As a kid, I always came last in sports day. I dropped out of dance and horse riding classes, and I was behind my peers in my flute lessons. I couldn’t see the normal line guides when doing neat work in class due to my horrendous eye sight and very high prescription glasses, and so I had to have special extra bold ones made so that I could write in straight lines and see them through the plain paper. I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t do everything that I was asked to do first time. I was weaker than my little brother and lost in fights. I didn’t change things that I could have changed, or stop events happening that I could have stopped. I couldn’t just fix things straight away, and I couldn’t improve the situations and things that happened around me. I was always ‘it’ in tig because I couldn’t run fast enough. I didn’t move up classes in swimming at the end of every single term, I couldn’t spell to save my life, and I used to have extra spelling classes. The only thing that I was ever really good at was academics: reading, writing, and numeracy. Despite my spelling issues, I got the highest grades you could possibly get at primary school, and an award for outstanding achievement when I left. A similar theme resonated through middle school. I’d set an expectation for my parents that I would academically always be the best.

This was an expectation that I found I couldn’t live up to. As I got older, things got harder, and people got more clever. Moving to upper school meant the start of my GCSE’s and a whole host of new, and much more talented people. Although I made it through those exams with a set of A’s and A*’s, passing the boundaries of my parents expectation, things began to change when I got to A Level.

I realised that I’d gotten to a point where unless it was academic, my parents didn’t care, and they weren’t proud of me. I got a B in one of my subjects at the end of AS, and my parents then began to take even less interest in my extra curricular activities. I began to achieve things outside of academia. Some of those I didn’t and still don’t think much of because my parents didn’t either, even though people around me commented on how good they were. But as with everything, there were some that I was proud of, and it destroyed me a little when my parents weren’t proud with me. The thing that has always stood out the most to me was my grade seven flute exam. I’ve always struggled with my flute, and been entered for exams with a previous teacher too early, with little practice and guidance. I feared them. I feared them because I always failed or nearly failed, and my parents knew that. I don’t think they ever understood why I used to still take them. That’s easy, and I know the answer to that one, but they never asked. In the early days, I was afraid of my teacher and did exactly as she said. When I got my new (and may I add, amazing) teacher, things changed. This time, when it came to my grade seven, I wanted to prove a point. She’d built my confidence block by block, and while the thought of failure still ruled me, I didn’t want to scrape through, a few marks above the pass boundary, I wanted a merit. For any decent musician, a merit isn’t much to be honest. If anything, they’ve probably grown to expect it. For me, getting that merit was absolutely everything, and I worked and I worked and I worked. I’m sure that my best friend can still remember my reaction the day that my flute teacher rang with my result, for she was sat opposite me in the corner of a little coffee shop in our home town. I was speechless, but when the information sunk in, and I got my merit, I danced and I jumped around, and nobody could stop me. I was beyond happy, and I was extremely proud of myself. I did it. I’d achieved what had seemed impossible to me. My hard work had paid off, and as soon as I got home, I ran through the door and screamed about my achievement. Neither of my parents even said well done.

I cried in my next flute lesson as I told my teacher that story. I was heartbroken. They both knew how much that exam had meant to me, yet they showed not even the tiniest bit of happiness or joy for me. It didn’t make them happy that I was happy, and that hurt. It tore a little part of me away that I know I’ll never get back, regardless of how much I try.

The long awaited A2 results day didn’t go much better, either. After months and months of expectations, pressure, stress, tears and genuine heart wrenching fear, I rang my dad to tell him that I’d gotten into university the second that I found out. I was extremely excited and couldn’t wait to tell him the good news. His response was ‘what grades did you get?’ When I replied that I didn’t know just yet, but I knew I was in to my first choice, he told me to hurry up and go and found out. My uni course needed me to get grades AAB. As it happens, I got A*AA. Of course, I was interested to see what results I’d gotten, but most of the excitement came from knowing that I’d made it to university. That’s the big hurdle of A Levels, isn’t it? They get you through to the next stage of your education, and then nobody ever really looks at them again. I cried with happiness when I opened this envelope. One, I was a little shocked that I’d managed to do so well, and I’d never have predicted such amazing results in my wildest dreams. Second though, I knew that those grades meant that not only had I achieved my dream of going to university, I’d satisfied my parents, too. There were no B grades, and so they had no reason to be disappointed in me. I knew that I’d get smiles when I got home, and that meant that I could at least pretend that they were happy about the university bit, too.

Of course, I probably shouldn’t care what my parents think, but I do. After all, they raised me. They taught me values and morals, and led me through the early stages of my life. I do care what they think, because they’re my parents. They’re important and they mean a lot to me, and as their child, I want to make them happy. I don’t want them to worry about me. I want them to be proud of me. I want to show them that their parenting has paid off, and that I’m the child that every parent wants.

Now though, failure and expectations rule my life, and I often feel like I define myself by letters on bits of paper. Teachers have always questioned why I put pressure on myself, but what they fail to understand is that actually, I don’t. It’s not a choice. Nobody in their right mind would choose to make themselves ill through stress in the way that I do. I just have expectations to live up to. There’s still a little child inside me that wants to please and make everyone around me happy, no matter how hard that is. One day though, I want to get past this. I won’t be able to do it on my own, and it’s going to take a very very long time. I know that I’ll have to change my thought process, my outlook, and both my physical and mental habits and behaviours. But I have to, because I don’t want to be ruled by a need to please, and a need to academically achieve. I don’t want to have to put heath-deteriorating pressure on myself to do well, in order to live up to the expectations that others set for me. I want to set my own expectations, and want other people to be proud of me for being who I am and doing what I do, not because of what’s written on a piece of paper. I feel like nobody is ever proud of the real me. Nobody appreciates my efforts, they just rely on the end result. Mostly though, I’d like to be proud of myself, and I’d like to be able to feel happy and proud without feeling guilty.

It’s going to take a long time to change the thoughts that I have with regards to failure, because they’re so engrained into me. It’s something that I fear, but it’s also something that I don’t like to admit that I fear. The fear of failing controls nearly every aspect of my life, from how well I do in my exams, to forming friendships, to being confident, spending too much money, getting ill and sick, not sleeping enough, not working enough, things not being organised and lined up at perfect angles to one another. I won’t stop working 12 hour days, because I will always over work, that’s just me. Just because I want to rid myself of this fear, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to achieve my absolute best at all times. What I’d like to be able to do is stop thinking ‘I’m a failure’ and instead think, ‘I didn’t get it quite right this time, but I tried my very hardest, and that’s all I can do.’

I won’t change who I am, because I’ll always be me. What I want to try and do, however, is change my attitude to success and failure. I’d like to not feel guilty about taking time out from my studies, and permanently have images swirling around my head, and a little argument in my brain about the fact that I’m not working enough. I don’t want to be so exhausted by the pressure that my life consist of only 12 hours of work, and 12 hours sleep, with nothing to break it up. It’s going to take a long time to change. I won’t be able to do it on my own. There’s so many things related to failure which I have to combat, and I can’t do it without someone to believe in me. Nobody has ever believed in me before, and nobody has ever been proud of me. I don’t care about that. Okay, that’s a lie. I do care. At least, I care right now, but I want to get to a point where I don’t. I can’t do this on my own though, because I’m afraid to fail at combating failure. I’m afraid to write myself goals, and to start working on this, because it could all go heads up. On my own, I’m not strong enough to make things better. Please help me?

I’m going to help cure cancer.

I guess that I’ve always had an awareness of cancer. From an age much younger than most, I knew what cancer was and how it affected people, and what it did to lives. When I was very young, both my Nana Winnie and Auntie Audrey died from cancer. I don’t remember it much, I was too young to remember anything about Winnie, but I remember Audrey. She lived a few doors down from my nan, and she always spoke to and played with us as kids. She gave me a lot of old coins once, and I think they’re in a pot in my nan’s bedroom now. I still wasn’t old enough to really understand, but I was sad when she died, and I used to sit and count those coins for a long time afterwards.

When I was twelve, a very close family friend who’s the same age as me was diagnosed with bone cancer. It was three years before he finally got the all clear, and even now, three years after that date, he’s still having treatment to try and fuse the bones in his legs. He’s had plaster casts, operations, and metal frames with pins. Even when the cancer has gone, it doesn’t ever go away, really. It still follows you and haunts you and impacts on your life, forever.

Recently, my mum is being tested for cancerous cells, and that worries me a lot. She doesn’t tell me much of what is going on, and I panic about her well being much more than I should. The doctor told me a few months ago when I went to see him about an issue, that although the chances are minute, there’s a chance that even my symptoms could be a sign of cancer. That thought haunts me every day, and it doesn’t go away.

If you’ve got to my age and never known anyone who’s had cancer, you’ve done amazingly well. I don’t know at exactly what point I decided that I wanted to go into cancer research. It was only a couple of years ago that I found out what pharmacology actually was, and then I was dead set that it would be my career. Somewhere in the mess that has been the past few years, I decided that I wanted to go into cancer research. Not once have I wavered from that decision. Especially with my family friend suffering for such a long time and at such a young age, cancer has had a massive impact on my life. I’m so determined to do well in my degree, because I want to make a difference. Of course, one person cannot save the world on their own, but if I can make a positive impact on the lives of others, then I will. I could never ever be a doctor or a nurse, that’s an extremely challenging profession both physically and mentally (oh, I don’t do blood or needles which doesn’t help!), so being a pharmacologist is my way of making a difference.

And then today happened. I found out that one of my ex A Level teachers has a brain tumour. When I heard this news, my panic stress induced freeze attack hit me faster than it ever has before, and I couldn’t control it. I overheated, and I fainted. Luckily, I was sat down and so I didn’t injure myself, but even I was a little shocked. Even now, I’m surprised that I reacted in such a way to the news. After all, she’s only a teacher, right?

Let me take a little side track here, for a second. Bare with me, because hopefully it will allow me to explain. Back in my last year of middle school, I had to give a fifteen minute presentation about my heroes. At the time, I didn’t really have any heroes. In the end, I chose my cousins, my friend suffering from cancer, and a random flautist that I’d never heard of but a quick google search provided me with the answers. I was very much a ‘do it on my own’ kind of person, and I still am now. I didn’t look up to anyone, because I couldn’t see anyone around me that I thought was worth looking up to. Perhaps if I’d have thought a little harder, I’d have come up with a better idea, but I didn’t want to think too hard because the more personal I made it, the more difficult it was going to be to give the presentation. Presentations are hard enough anyway, and make me panic enough anyway without me talking about something personal on top of that! Now, five years on, things are a little different. Although I’d still be horrified by having to give a presentation about my heroes, I’d have some to talk about. I don’t like the word ‘hero’ because it’s glorified. The people that I look up to and want to be like don’t deserve that title. To me, they’re more than ‘just’ heroes. They’re not drawings in a comic book. They’re real people who have made a difference to me. It’s a little difficult to put into words, but the reasons I appreciate them are very personal to me, and a little difficult to explain to the outside world. I guess it doesn’t matter anyway, because my understanding of the word hero is bound to have changed since I was thirteen.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, without revealing the whole list, that teacher is someone who would be on it. To me, she’s not ‘just a teacher’. Her name would be there in a brightly coloured pen with something along the lines of ‘nosy, laughable, caring, and can give a bloody good motivational speech!’ She impacted on my life in my A Level years more than most of you could even imagine. From the first few months of AS when I was dragged to her room in tears by my best friend because A Levels were all just too much, all the way through my grandad’s illness when she excused me from homework (I had NEVER missed a homework deadline in my life – except once when I was eleven. I had done my RE homework, but I just left it at home. I was horrified.), to my A2 mocks when I failed and she offered to give me extra tuition at lunch time, from the times that I arrived late to her lesson to sit on my own in total silence, and she asked no questions, to the hundreds of times that I stood in her room after a lesson staring blankly and on the verge of tears, desperately trying to force myself to say something that I was hiding, weather it be my friend’s eating habits, my state of panic, or something else. I never did say, and I never did tell. Until leavers. I don’t want to talk about leavers, or what happened. It’s a story I’ve told before, it’s a story that tears chunks from my heart, and it’s a story that I try my best not to think about. But what she did that night and the days that followed in order to help me cope was unbelievable. She sat next to me on that coach and held me and hugged me when all I was trying to do was ignore her and push her away, but all I really needed was someone to do exactly what she was doing. She spoke to me the next day, on DofE, to check in, and to give me one of those fabulous motivational speeches. I saw her a few days later and it was just the same. A few months later, she sent me an email and arranged to meet me for coffee in the summer holidays to check on me, to give support, and to give me one final speech before exam results day. She still emails me occasionally now. I knew she hadn’t been in school recently, and I knew she’d been ill.

I didn’t ever dream or expect that she’d have cancer.

It doesn’t matter how educated I am about the disease, what I know, or what I want to be, when there’s someone you care about that gets ill, it hits you. Hard. She may ‘only be a teacher’, but I do care about her, lots. And she cared about me. I’d like to think that she still does care about me. On reflection, I know she’ll be a fighter, and I really hope she’ll be okay. It was a shock when I heard the news. Again, I don’t have the words to describe it, I just hit freeze mode.

The news may have knocked me out today, I may not have revised as hard as I perhaps should have this afternoon.

But four hours after I was told, and on reflection, I know one thing for sure. I’m now even more determined to go into cancer research. I’m determined to do well in these exams, and this degree. I’m determined to be awesome, just like she is, and like she always told me that I was.

Rainbows

‘Lets paint a picture of rainbows and flowers and we can all be happy.’ There’s a joke quote, something along those lines, which circulates my floor at uni. I don’t really get ‘it’ because I’m not really in ‘the crowd’. It’s never really bothered me, because I’ve never been ‘popular’ and I never wanted to be popular. I like my close knit friendship group. Now I’m at uni, it does bother me, and it bothers me probably more than it should. But that’s another post for another day, because today I’m feeling positive, and I plan to keep it that way.

At the end of every rainbow, there’s a pot of gold, so the legend goes. And, my own personal edition also notes that at the bottom of every lake there’s a pile of rock. When you’re faced with a challenge, you’ve got two options. You can leap up high into the sky and onto the rainbow, and follow it’s path, or you can jump into the lake and go for a swim.

The rainbow is far up, and it takes all your might to jump, grab the edge with your fingertips, and hoist yourself onto that bright, sunny, and colourful path. Once you’re there though, the going is easy. The path may be long, but it’s flat and it’s solid. There’s no hills to climb, there’s no monsters to get in your way, and if you can persevere for the days and days that it takes to walk the path, you’ll reach the pot of gold and reap the rewards at the end.

At first glance, a swim in the lake may seem a much more preferable option. It looks calm, flat, and much much easier than trying to hoist yourself onto that rainbow. You simply splash into the water, and you break the glassy surface. The water ripples and whooshes around you, and the creatures which you couldn’t see from the bank begin to surface. The crocodiles surround you, the water burns your eyes, the fish swim just that little too close, and then something wraps around your ankles, pulling you down. You’re drowning, you cannot breathe, but still you’re pulled further. You try to get to the surface, but the pulling only gets harder and stronger. You drop down into the deep, icy water. You pass out, and your head smashes against the rocks at the bottom of the lake. You’re helpless, your fate is decided for you, and you lost all choices after the moment you broke the surface.

Life’s a bit like that sometimes; choices of lakes or rainbows. In a new year, people make new resolutions, and while I won’t, for fear of failing, I can try to consider a change of attitude. Stress, panic, and to some extent, depression can be likened to choices of rainbows and lakes. When faced with a decision, the positive thinkers will choose the rainbow, while the pessimists will succumb to the icy but deceptive waters of the lake. What’s different in these scenarios however, is that while the lake will pull you down, and the fear and panic will take over, hope should not be lost. It’s a little crazy to say that to a negative thinker. To them, hope is lost, and I should know, because I am one. What I’m learning, however, is that there’s always a second chance. There’s always the possibility that someone might put their hand into the water and risk their own fate to pull you out. Even if they don’t, you might get strong, and find it within you to beat the creature away. All that you have to do then is pull yourself (or get a leg-up onto) a rainbow, and you’re walking the path to positivity.

I say this, because right now, for the first time in a long time, I’m walking along that rainbow. With a little help from a friend of mine, I’m trying to change my attitude. Of course, when a mindset is so deeply engraved into you as mine is into me, it’s not easy to change. It’s really really not easy to change. It’s hard to climb up onto that rainbow, there’s no denying it. What’s important though is to remember to take baby steps, and whilst I may not be able to yet say ‘Everything will be perfect and I’ll get top marks in my exams,’ what I can say is ‘I’m going to work really hard, and it’ll be okay. I’ll at least pass, and I won’t get kicked out, and I can have tonnes of fun when they’re all over.’ That’s a massive improvement for me. Usually, I’m very much ‘I can’t do this it’s too hard, I’ll fail and I’ll let everyone and myself down,’ with plenty of tears and frustration to go along with it. I’ve had the leg up onto a rainbow, and my friend tells me that she’s proud of me. That means a lot, because this isn’t easy.

Of course, I’m only taking baby steps, and even then, I’m not always perfect. Sometimes, I think my positive attitude is just as much about lying to myself as it is everyone else. As my trust for my friend has grown, I’ve relied on her to pull my out of the water. I still have secrets to tell about why I am who I am, and feel how I feel, but I’m ready to tell them. Hopefully when I see her in a few weeks, I will tell them. Perhaps that will make this walk along my rainbow a little easier. My rainbow is a bit wonky here and there, and there’s the odd hole that I need to avoid, but slowly, I’m beginning to really believe that I can be positive. I don’t think it’ll last forever; I’ll wobble every now and again. One day, I’ll probably fall. What I know however, is that actually it’s much easier on the rainbow (even my slightly mismatched one) than it is in the lake, and I’d like to stay here as long as I can. If for any reason I do fall, I’d like to think that someone will help me to climb back up. I’d like to think that even from the lake, I’d remember how amazing the rainbow was, and somehow, I’d jump back up again. For now though, I want to keep taking baby steps and walking on this path. It’s warm and it’s bright, and perhaps one day, my rainbow will be as solid as I need it to be to walk along it without thinking, or without the help and support that I need right now.